Should Kids Have Gluten?

Gluten has been shown to have deleterious effects on the average adult’s digestive system. But our dietary needs differ from childhood to adulthood. Could gluten-rich foods be an important part of a child’s diet.

An Analogy: The Role of Dairy in our Diets:

It’s a well known fact that the majority of humans cannot digest the main sugar in dairy products (Lactose). While a majority of people of European descent have developed a mutation that enables them to break down dairy, people of African and Asian descent almost universally cannot.

But most of us can digest lactose when we are children.

As we become adults, we lose this ability to digest milk. The evolutionary reasons seem obvious: as babies we are nourished by breast-milk, but we no longer need that nourishment as we become adults. Evolution didn’t count on us making cow’s milk a regular part of our diet.

So the question is: does gluten play a similar role in our diet? Perhaps wheat products are great for when you are a child, at home, growing food and eating it while the adult hunter-gatherers head out to capture meat and nuts to feed their families.

If this were true, then we’d see a pronounced different in gluten-intolerance in adults as compared to children. Unfortunately there isn’t much known about gluten and how it affects the body. While we know about Coeliacs and their life-threatening allergy, there are other forms of gluten allergies that express themselves via inflammation and hives.

Of course children’s sensitivities to gluten were one of the reasons it was first discovered in the first place. In the 1940’s a Dutch Paediatrician noticed that a bread shortage led to the improved health of several children who were chronically sick.

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